| Payton North
SPRINGFIELD – It was a night of celebration at the Nov. 29 Springfield School Committee meeting as both Milton Bradley School and Alice B. Beal Elementary School were recognized for recent outstanding achievements in the district.
Springfield Superintendent Daniel Warwick explained that Milton Bradley Elementary has recently exited Underperforming Level Four Accountability Status.
“Milton Bradley has had incredible gains over the last several years thanks to her leadership and the outstanding teachers at this school,” Warwick said of Milton Bradley Principal Kristen Hughes. “This is our ninth school in the city of Springfield to make the improvements to exit Level Four status, so it’s an accomplishment.”
Warwick continued, stating that Hughes was an instrumental part of guiding Springfield’s White Street School out of level four status and to a national, title one blue ribbon school award.
Council member Denise Hearst congratulated Hughes, stating, “I think it’s remarkable, and you’ve done an amazing job. I think it’s great that you’ve been able to help the district move forward in bringing these two schools out of under performing status. Thank you to yourself and to your team for what you guys do for our kids day in and day out.”
Vice Chair Christopher Collins said, “Where the rubber hits the road is always in the classroom but the work can’t get done in the classroom without a leader that allows them and assists them in getting what they need to do it. You’ve done it now twice for the students of Springfield. They owe you great gratitude.”
Mayor Domenic Sarno echoed the sentiment of the other committee members, commending Hughes for doing “double duty” for a number of years for both White Street School and Milton Bradley School.
“We deeply appreciate your continued commitment and dedication to our children, to our kids,” Sarno said. “Many times people say it’s impossible teaching in an urban center – not so. Is it difficult at times? Yes, but it is not impossible and you’re making tremendous gains and giving confidence to our young children and also facilitating for their families, and we deeply appreciate that.”
Hughes thanked members of her staff that have helped her and worked side by side with her to get both White Street and Milton Bradley to where they need to be.
“When I went there [to Milton Bradley] three years ago I asked them [the staff] to work as hard as they’ve ever worked before, and they’ve really stepped up,” Hughes said.
“I’ve worked as a principal at three schools in the district that have been successful. I can say that of the schools I’ve worked at, Milton Bradley definitely has its challenges and we are not where we need to be yet, but we’re definitely on our way and we’re working hard every day to continue to improve that school,” she said.
Hughes and her staff were presented with a plaque of achievement.
Continuing the theme of the evening, Alice B. Beal Elementary School was honored for Title One Distinguished School nomination based on their outstanding achievement levels. Principal Debbie Beglane, along with her staff, were in attendance to represent the school.
Warwick explained that a few days earlier he had been going through his email and received the notification that Beal School was nominated for this honor. He stated that even though the school was nominated, he was already planning on bringing the school’s test scores to the meeting based on their achievement. Warwick shared that the school achieved a percentile of 58th nationally. For an urban school, he said, that is “absolutely incredible.”
“The progress performance percent, on a new test, this is only the second year, was 85 percent. The progress percent for our lowest performing 25 percent kids; 95 percent,” he explained. “The ELA (English Language Arts) average scaled scores, 505.1 which is incredible and 498.5 for math, both meeting the targets. The student growth was over 50 percent in ELA and math and meeting the target.
“When you have that kind of performance it’s a testimony to outstanding school leadership by the principal and outstanding teaching in the classrooms,” he closed.
Sarno agreed, stating there was plenty of “great work” going on in the school system.
“Awards for urban schools are far and few between at times. People want to knock us all the time but successes are being made here,” Sarno said. “We say no to no one. We take every child on, unlike other areas in suburban and rural areas. Everyone is welcome and to the best of our ability we make sure that we help them out to make believers in them. That’s quite a testimony with all the urban challenges that we have to deal with.”
Beglane noted that she appreciates the honor for her school, but more importantly, for her staff.
“I can’t take credit for it, it’s totally them,” she said.
In other business, Warwick shared that the arrest report is down. Additionally the district has received a Safe and Supportive Schools grant for $20,000 which will be going toward working to provide mental health counseling and support for students as well as additional social, emotional learning support options.